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The Penn Reading Project for students enrolling into Penn this fall will focus on Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

Each year, The Office of the Provost brings together students activities — including the Penn Reading Project — under the umbrella of the central theme. The “Year of Games” will follow this year’s “Year of Water.”

McGonigal’s book, which was unveiled yesterday, focuses on the role of video and computer games in everyday life, according to a statement from the Office of the Provost.

“By [McGonigal’s] count, more than 174 million young Americans are regular gamers, and the average young person will spend 10,000 hours playing by age 21,” reads the statement. “But far from finding these statistics frightening, McGonigal focuses on the positive role that gaming plays in social, mental and cultural development.”

“I don’t really play video games,” said Sarah Parmacek, a high-school senior who was admitted to the Huntsman Program at Penn, about the theme choice. “But I guess it’s an interesting topic. Maybe it will teach me something unexpected.”

“I think mostly I’m just excited to come to Penn,” she added. “I guess finding out what the specific topic, knowing that we have a concrete plan for next year, makes it more exciting.”

Discussion at the Penn Reading Project will commence the year’s other events on games, including lectures, symposia and conferences with scholars.

“Game playing connects the physical and the mental, and so mind and body will be central to the year’s conception of games,” according to the Office of the Provost.

The Provost is also accepting applications for grants up to 750 dollars of funding toward Arts and the City Year events. Past grant winners have brought well-known speakers to talk about the year theme at Penn. Students, faculty, and staff may apply.

Those participating in the “Year of Games” will be the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, Cinema Studies, the Penn Museum, among other departments and programs across Penn, according to the Office of the Provost press release.

The Arts and the City Year was first established with “Year of Evolution” in 2009-2010. Past Penn Reading projects have focused on Rose George’s The Big Necessity, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture and Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, in addition to Thomas Eakin’s painting, The Gross Clinic.

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